The Thick of It


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Five Live Labour leadership hustings

This morning I listened intently to Five Live's Labour leadership debate. I've not yet been to any hustings so this was my first opportunity to see all the candidates together. Otherwise I've had emails from the candidates, David Milliband leaflets in the post and various friends trying to encourage me to support David Milliband but mostly Ed Milliband.

All through I heard a great deal from Ed Balls and Andy Burnham and not much from David and Ed Milliband or Diane Abbott.

I was surprised and impressed by Balls. He was bullish about Labour's record in government, where many of the other candidates wanted to mention where Labour had gone wrong. He came across well from a Labour Party perspective though I'm not sure that his style would appeal to floating voters. I think he should be given a central role in the shadow cabinet but perhaps wouldn't give Labour the widest appeal as leader.

Andy Burnham spoke well about wanting the Labour Party to trust its members and suggested that the cost of membership, at £39 per year, was too much. He pointed out when asked about the public deficit that under Labour public spending grew less than economic growth. I was pleased when he dubbed the ConDem cuts "public sector vandalism." He also stated when asked that he thought he had more chance of becoming Labour leader than Everton of winning the championship. I doubt either will happen but I really like his personable style and his frankness.

David Milliband talked about wanting to ensure Labour was embedding in communities - something we do in Islington. He was one of several candidates to jibe Abbott, stating: "why trash (Labour's) record?". He admitted he (like many others) was wrong about there being WMDs in Iraq though he thought Iraq not to be an issue in 2010. Sounds most like a leader though we heard little of him for a frontrunner.

Diane Abbott isn't worth much of a mention. Her interjections were rare and predictable. She speaks for a section of the Labour Party and has a rightful role to play in that, just not my section of the party. The country has just voted for more Tories than Labour so I don't agree that moving to the left will help at all.

Ed Milliband disagreed with David. He was right to suggest that Labour kept losing voters over the noughties, through issues like tuition fees and Iraq.However, I heard so little of him that I remain thoroughly unconvinced that he is leadership material.

I suspect that the election will produce a Milliband versus Milliband run-off. If that were the case I'd opt for David. However on today's showing I'm going for Andy Burnham then Ed Balls.

1 comment:

Idle Pen Pusher said...

"[Ed Balls] perhaps wouldn't give Labour the widest appeal as leader."

What mastery of understatement, Tim?

"[Andy Burnham] pointed out when asked about the public deficit that under Labour public spending grew less than economic growth.

That's shockingly ignorant. How could he say something so untrue? Public spending in 97 was 39% of GDP. Today it's 50%. How can he be so ignorant of the single most important statistic about the single most important political issue of this year?